Monday, July 8, 2013

Outline. Yeah. Okay. If You say so.

The purpose of outlining. Give me a minute. I'm thinking. 

Got it. 

Near as I can figure the main purpose of outlining is to drive me stark raving mad. I hate it. I have never liked outlining: I will never like outlining. I find it a woeful waste of my time and energies.

There. I got that off my chest.

Now then, the purpose of outlining is simple. An outline gives you a map. More importantly, it lets you show other people the map to your work. You know, people like editors. Sure, technically what you show them is a synopsis, but the synopsis is made easier by having an outline.

I hate outlines, have I mentioned that? Never use the damn things. Well, not often. Sometimes though, like when I’m co-writing something with another author who likes to outline. Then the outline is a wonderful thing, especially if there’s a deadline involved and you and your partner in crime have to write simultaneously. Then you can discuss who has to writer what scene and go to town without all that waiting around.

Of course, if you work more like me, you have phone discussions, you meet for a meal, you exchange a few emails and then you do the exact same thing, but the idea of this article is to show how outlining can be useful. It can be useful. Make no mistake about that.

But the most important thing to remember about outlines, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that you are allowed to deviate from them. I DO outline, by the way. I just do it in my head. I prefer to avoid writing down anything unless it’s absolutely necessary. Once it’s written down, I’ve written it, you see. And that removes the need to write it again.

Yeah. Okay. I really don’t much find a use in outlining. I do it if I have to, but I have to, once again, agree with Jeffe (That happens a lot. It’s actually a little unsettling.) and point out that outlining, while useful to some, is a tool that you should use as you see fit.

And now, because I just love putting pictures on these things, I once again offer you the cover of SEVEN FORGES, because, you know, WORD-WHORE and this is the one coming up in the near future. It’s gonna be fun. I wouldn’t lie about a thing like that. Also, starting the sequel very soon.

Just saying. 


  1. If you can do it in your head, great! More power to you! If not, that's what paper is for (although it could be digital paper).

  2. Precisely right, Ellis. And I encourage everyone to use what is best for them. For me outlining is stifling in many cases. If, on the other hand, outlining is necessary to make a work proceed for someone else, than outlining would be the way to go. Be it paper, digital or carefully sculpting a three dimensional diorama out of Legos. Whatever ti takes to get the story where you want it. :)

  3. Of COURSE you agree with me. :D All will be assimilated!

  4. See? That right there, that's what I'm talking about! Jeffe is up to something. ;)

  5. I'm confused. Are you saying you dislike outlines? ;-)

    I'm not much for embracing outlines or anything that even slightly resembles plotting. I break out in hives. Then I have to run to the store for Benadryl and who has time for that? I have a book to write and edits to complete and rambling blog posts to publish and other writers' chapters to demolish...I mean, constructively critique. On top of which, random quirkiness must be displayed on Facebook, Twitter and a gazillion other social media sites, leaving me absolutely not a single milisecond free for things like outlines. Or plotting.

  6. Ah...and there is that wonderful cover. And a great example of deviating from the, not the book.

  7. THIS, exactly! => "Once it’s written down, I’ve written it, you see. And that removes the need to write it again."

    Thank you! I'm totally with you on this point :-)

  8. Alexia, my dear, why be normal? ;) And thanks for the kind words.

    I think that at the end of the day all of the advice in the world is only good if it works for you. For that reason I always recommend taking it with a grain of salt.